Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)
July 09, 2012
- The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) was founded by the World Council of Churches in August 2001. The WCC Executive Committee recommended to “develop an accompaniment programme that would include an international ecumenical presence and which would also be closely linked to the local churches.” In February 2002, with the approval of the WCC Executive Committee, the EAPPI came into being.
- Sources of funding:
- EAPPI brings international volunteers to the West Bank “to experience life under occupation” and to “provide protective presence to vulnerable communities, monitor and report human rights abuses and support Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace.” Often, however, these activities instigate confrontations with Israeli settlers and the Israeli army.
- EAPPI consistently demonizes Israel, making accusations of “apartheid,” “war crimes,” and “Bantustans”; calls the security barrier, which has saved countless lives from suicide bombings, “evil.”
- EAPPI’s core publication, “Faith Under Occupation”, jointly published with WCC and the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre (2012), places sole blame on Israel for the difficulties faced by Christians in the Holy Land. It also seeks to “disprove” what it calls “unfounded Israeli and Christian Zionist propaganda that Palestinian Christians are depopulating due to Muslim fundamentalism in Palestinian society” (page 10).
- EAPPI presents a one-sided Palestinian narrative, participates in activities commemorating the Palestinian “Nakba” (catastrophe) and promotes the “right of return.” The organization ignores terror attacks against Israelis, places the blame for the conflict entirely on Israel. EAPPI frequently uses inflammatory and demonizing rhetoric against Israel and engages in boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns.
- The BDS movement seeks to isolate and weaken Israel through the use of
- academic, cultural, consumer and sports boycotts of Israel
- Divestment targets “corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian rights and ensuring that the likes of university investment portfolios and pension funds are not used to finance such companies.”
- Sanctions in the areas of cooperation agreements between Israel and other states. BDS calls for action in three areas: military, economic and diplomatic.
- Ultimately, the BDS movement seeks to dismantle the State of Israel, thus denying the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination and to sovereign equality.
Examples of EAPPI activity:
- “Sending organizations” of EAPPI includes United Church of Canada, FinnChurchAid, Kerkinactie, Norwegian Church Aid. (A “sending organization” selects and recruits volunteers participating in the EAPPI program and act as the participant’s sponsor and contact while in country.)
- In May 2012, FinnChurchAid and EAPPI launched a campaign to “mark products from the settlements to tell their true origin…The settlements are a key obstacle to peace in the Middle East. In addition to the serious human rights abuses.”
- EAPPI is a partner for the South Africa Team for “Israeli Apartheid Week”, which is “made up of 25 members stretched across South Africa.”
- A publication entitled “40 Years of Occupation” included an article advocating illegal and inflammatory activities – such as hacking government websites – to “end the occupation”.
- EAPPI endorses the Kairos Palestine Document, which was nurtured and widely promoted by the World Council of Churches (WCC) through its Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF), established in 2007.
- Kairos Palestine rationalizes, justifies and trivializes terrorism, calling it “legal resistance” stating (in section 1.4) “Some (Palestinian) political parties followed the way of armed resistance. Israel used this as a pretext to accuse the Palestinians of being terrorists and was able to distort the real nature of the conflict, presenting it as an Israeli war against terror, rather than an Israeli occupation faced by Palestinian legal resistance aiming at ending it.” (emphasis added)
- Kairos Palestine has come under strong criticism by a range of Jewish and Christian theologians for its anti-Jewish replacement theology. (See Dr. Michael Volkmann, the representative for the Dialogue between Christians and Jews of the Evangelical (Protestant) Church in Württemberg, Germany; and the statement by Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform).
- “Faith Under Occupation” (page 34) demonstrates EAPPI’s clear support for the BDS movement and its demand for a so-called “right of return”: “protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in the 1948 UN Resolution 194.” The “right of return” is further promoted on page 38. The “right of return,” if implemented, would result in Israel ceasing to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.
- Omitted from the document is any mention of the approximately 800,000 Jews from Arab states who were forced out of their homes by Arab governments after 1948. Most of these Jewish refugees from Arab states, and their descendants, live in Israel. EAPPI ignores their rights.
- In another instance, the publication blames the “Israeli Occupation” for “actively cleansing the Holy Land of its Christians (page 37).” (emphasis added)
- In Conclusions and Recommendations (page 83), in defining Jewish identity only as a “faith,” EAPPI denies Israel’s right to exist as a democratic and Jewish state: “If Israel persists to demand that it be recognized as a Jewish state, it would set a precedent for an Islamic state of Palestine; thus leaving no home for Palestinian Christians in their homeland. Any call for exclusivity by any faith over any part of the Holy Land should be denied for the preservation of all communities and for the hope of peaceful coexistence.” (emphasis added)
- The publication also concludes that “When things are wrong for Palestinian Christians, they are wrong for all Palestinians and the root of all Palestinians sufferings in founded in the Israeli military occupation of their homeland.” (emphasis added)
- In the Conclusions and Recommendations section is the following: “For more information on actions that you can take to work towards ending the occupation and realizing a just peace, we recommend that you refer to Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh’s ’50 Ways to Act for Peace with Justice.’”
- Qumsiyeh’s “50 Ways to Act for Peace with Justice” (page 84) recommends:
- “educate yourself by…Electronic intifada and al-Jazeera”;
- “Practice using clear and unambiguous vocabulary including language to protest apartheid and colonization”;
- “Join the International Solidarity Movement”;
- Join the campaigns for economic boycotts…
- Join or initiate a campaign for cultural and academic boycott…”;
- “Engage in civil disobedience actions to draw attention and change policies”;
- Reach out to Christian religious leaders and ask them to act based on the Kairos Palestine document
- “Organize a public debate between those who support Zionism and those who support equality and justice”;
- Qumseyeh’s use of antisemitic themes in his writings: EAPPI’s usage of Qumseyeh’s writings in this major document is problematic for a number of reasons, foremost is his frequent use of themes defined as antisemitic by the European Union’s Working Definition of Antisemitism.
- Dr. Mazin Qumseyeh is a Palestinian Christian living in the West Bank. He is a researcher and instructor at three Palestinian universities (Bethlehem, Birzeit, Al-Quds) who speaks frequently on behalf of Sabeel. He was the opening speaker at Sabeel’s 8th International Conference in 2011 and is a recommended speaker on the website of Friends of Sabeel North America. In his writings he often uses antisemitic tropes where he:
- writes about the “Zionist controlled mainstream media” (here) and how “the Zionist controlled media does not dare publish reality: what is happening on the ground to people. The popular resistance is all but ignored by the self delusional right wing Zionists and their managed media outlets” (here) (emphasis added)
- uses racialist criteria to deny Jewish historical connections with the Land of Israel based on the debunked theory that Ashkenazi Jews are not what Qumseyeh calls “Semitic people” but in fact are Turkic Khazars. “The research of Arthur Koestler,” Qumsiyeh writes, “who happens to be an Ashkenazi Jew himself, clearly demonstrates that most Ashkenazis are convert Khazar's with closer ties to Turkish people than to Semitic people.” (emphasis added) Note: Koestler was an author, essayist and journalist. He was neither a historian nor a scientist.
- claims Israeli Jews “have developed fear of gentiles to paranoia levels” and asks “Why will there not be a US foreign policy that benefits US population? Is it because certain Jews make money out of the tribalism that is Zionism?” (emphasis added)
- engages in Holocaust-denial when he writes “in ‘democratic’ Europe there are countries were you can examine and challenge any historical event except the Zionist version of WWII history.” (emphasis added)
- asserts that NATO is under Zionist control when it “follow(s) the script prepared for them in Tel Aviv” and that NATO’s definition of “terrorism” is the one promoted by “the Zionist media around the West (that Islam is the cause).” (emphasis added)
- dismisses Jewish, and Christian, concerns regarding the incitement to antisemitism contained in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of Christ” by declaring, “criticism of Gibson's movie by Zionists is simply not credible.” (emphasis added)
- Mazin Qumseyeh’s Israel-related Activities include: